Law & Justice

Police: Pit Bulls Involved in Fatal Incident with Bichon in Garwood Considered ‘Not Dangerous’

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The same pit bulls that fatally attacked a Bichon in July first attacked a dog in March at Garwood's Hartman Park, according to police. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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GARWOOD, NJ – No action will be taken against the two dogs – which have been described as pit bulls and bulldog mixes – that fatally attacked Lucky, an 8-year-old Bichon, in Garwood near the Westfield border last month.

On July 22, Lucky’s owner, Nancy Rubin, was walking him on leash when she said Lucky broke away and ran across the street to where the two pit bulls were being walked on leashes. According to Rubin, both of the pit bulls also broke free of their owner and attacked 10-pound Lucky.

According to the police report obtained by TAPinto Westfield, the pit bulls were not injured. Lucky was later euthanized.

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To read our original story about that incident, click here.

According to the police report, the two pit bulls are not considered potentially dangerous and were not recommended for quarantine because the Bichon ran to them, classifying the altercation as a provoked attack. The findings were agreed upon by the Garwood Police Department and the Westfield Health Department.

“We were not going to be taking any further steps as there’s no dog-to-dog quarantine requirements and the incident did not qualify under the potentially dangerous dog law,” the police report reads.

According to state law, a dog can only be declared potentially dangerous if it severely injured or killed another domestic animal unprovoked. A dog can also be considered dangerous if it caused bodily injury to a person unprovoked.

“‘Provoked’ is the key word,” Loray Kozar, registrar of vital statistics for the Westfield Health Department, said.  

A potentially dangerous dog must be kept securely enclosed and wear a special license, Kozar said. A dog can only be euthanized by the municipal court when it is found to be vicious. To be declared vicious, a dog must kill or severely injure a person unprovoked.

“It’s very hard to get a dog put down,” Kozar said.

This was not the first time that these two dogs attacked another dog, according to police. On March 2, the Garwood Police Department was called to Hartman Park by the owners of a Shiba Inu that was bitten by the pit bulls.

According to that police report, the owner of the Shiba Inu was walking his dog near the park when the owner of the pit bulls was exiting and the pit bulls rushed over to the Shiba Inu and bit his neck and his leg.

After the attack, the Shiba Inu underwent a procedure at an emergency vet in Iselin. The owner of the pit bulls gathered his dogs and left the scene.

“The [pit bulls’] owner explained that he was scared for his dog’s wellbeing because he was passing out after the fight and wanted to rush him home,” the police report reads.

A witness who lives near the park also called the Garwood Police and said the owner of the pit bulls frequently closes the gates to Hartman Park and uses it as a dog park. According to the police report, no complaints were filed against the pit bulls.

“The victims were not desirous of complaints at this time but were concerned about medical reimbursement from the other party involved,” the report reads.

Because no complaints were filed, the dogs were not found to be potentially dangerous.

“The municipal court decides if a dog is potentially dangerous,” Kozar said.

After both incidents, the pit bulls were quarantined until they were inspected by the health department. As of now, both are are free to be walked and let outside under standard pet laws.

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